The standard bike freak’s answer to this question is n+1, meaning “always one more”. But we at The Prologue think that in the Netherlands you should have at least four. Four?! We will explain…
So, we’re not talking practicalities here. This is an “ideal world” scenario – so don’t worry if you don’t have a garage, or have no money. We’re talking fantasy. But you have to be able to back up the argument. So here we go.
Obviously you need a road racing bike. There’s no argument there. Simply essential, and make it the best you can get. So let’s quickly move on. The cyclocrosser. “Huh?” was the reply when I offered this suggestion to our editorial team.
Of course. After the road racing season ends in autumn, you can literally dive straight into the mud and enjoy the beginning of the cross season. “Can you ride cross on a road bike with nobbly tyres?” The Prologue’s editor asked me. “No,” I replied, explaining that you need a lot of extra space in the frame’s build for mud to pass through, also wider tyres — which are up to 34mm wide these days. Not only that, but cyclocross bikes mostly have slightly slacker geometry than road bikes, making them easier to handle in unpredictable terrein. Cyclocross fitness is different from road race fitness, by the way — think of cyclocross as a full-gas time trial in mud, with constant obstacles. Nowhere to hide, and by the end of the season, around Xmas, very fit.
Then the third bike has to be the mountainbike. “But can’t I ride my 29er for cyclocross?” Asked another editor. “Some competitions allow this, like the Amsterdam Cross Competitie, but mostly the races and courses favour cyclocross bikes and a lot of official races exclude mountainbikes.” So, now we have a garage with a road racer and a cyclocrosser. Of course you need a mountainbike.
A 29er if possible, but more old-school bikes with 26-inch wheels are also still Big Fun. And MTB is all about having fun, or racing — if you’re really frikkin’ fit (and slightly insane). But wherever you are, if you have an MTB with you, you will have fun guaranteed.
So, what next? This one’s a personal choice also inspired by a recent podcast featuring Dutch pro cycling legend and Team Sunweb road captain Laurens te Dam. The beach racer. If you live in the Netherlands and, more specifically the Randstad urban belt, then you can get to the beach within an hour in a car. The Dutch beach racing season starts pretty much straight after the end of the cyclocross season. And you will need all that fitness if you are considering entering the events. What’s great about beach racing is that they mostly cater for all levels of rider, from beginner to pro.
But you need a bike. Either a 29er mountainbike fitted with balloon tyres, or a specially designed beach racing machine, as invented in North Holland. Just remember folks, salt water plays havoc with bike parts, and if you don’t fully clean your bike after riding on the beach, there will be parts which no longer work. And as Ten Dam notes during the podcast: Dutch beach racing really is a unique sporting experience in the world, which could actually be so much bigger.
But having said that you need a minimum of four bikes, what about the track bike, the gravel racer, the fixie and the vintage racer. Oh well, better make it eight then…